Saturday, September 22, 2012

Top 5 Sundays #21 - Fave On-Going TV Series!

Now, as anyone who knows me can tell you, I watch a lot of television. I have something almost always playing in the background - either movies or television shows, both ongoing and cancelled, or who only knows what - while I work and write. It's not that I don't like music - I do - but when it comes to background rumblings I prefer something with plot and dialogue. That, no surprise, leads to a lot of options to run through when running down a favourite five. Luckily, perseverance endured and, voila, we have this week's Top 5 all for your enjoyment. Cue the smiles here. Although not the deranged kind, if you please. Or the clown variety for that matter. Both would just be way too creepy.

#5 - Once Upon a Time (ABC)
The Evil Queen curses a bunch of Fairy Tale characters to live miserably in our world under new identities and no memory of their former selves all in an attempt to ruin the happy ending of her nemesis Snow White. Each episode is split between the running narrative of the present in our world and relevant flashbacks to the fairy tale world. The best parts of this show are the twists given to classic fairy tales (Rumpelstiltskin, in particular, has himself one hell of a rewrite) and the mystery of trying to sniff out who the fairy tale counterparts are of real world characters (some are obvious - like Archie Hopper being Jiminy Cricket and Ruby the Waitress being Little Red Riding Hood - and some will drive you crazy - like who the heck womanizing Dr. Whale is supposed to be!).

#4 - Supernatural (The CW)
Brothers Dean and Sam Winchesters ride a 67 Chevy Impala across the USA hunting down the ghosts, demons and monsters intent on massacring the (somewhat) innocent humans that whet their various appetites. Now, admittedly, I was not a fan of last season's leviathan storyline but with the finale having effectively closed the book on that saga and a new creative team at the helm, I have high hopes that the coming season will reach back to the show's roots and restore some of that gritty, monster-studded darkness and emotional fraternal drama that made me fall in love with it to begin with. Fingers crossed!

#3 - Lost Girl (Showcase, SyFy)
On the day that succubus Bo befriends street waif Kenzi, she also finds herself drawn into the world of Fae previously unknown to her, declares her refusal to choose between the Light and Dark sides, and goes into the private detective business. It was quite the eventful day, to say the least. I think it goes without saying that with a succubus as the heroine, this is a show that packs in a lot of sexuality, a lot of paranormal and a lot of drama. Personally, most of this show's highlights are to be found in the romantic tension found in Bo's relationships with werewolf police detective Dyson and human doctor/scientist Lauren. Not to mention the comic relief Kenzi provides just by being in a scene.

#2 - The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
The premise of this show is essentially: hot girl moves in across the hall from some super nerds, which may not get much interest all on its own. But, hey, you tune in once anyway just because you want to see just how close to stereotype this thing runs true. And then you're hooked. The characters compliment each other and the comedy is the right balance of dry and sarcastic meets pure stupidity. Jim Parsons as Dr. Sheldon Cooper steals the show, hands down. Most importantly of all, if Penny and Leonard break up again (I think this is their third or fourth go at a relationship) I will scream bloody murder.

#1 - Sherlock (BBC)
This modern retelling of the brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr. Watson is...well, you've just got to watch it. Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes is the perfect blend of frenetic creativity, pure brilliance, self-absorbed disregard and straight-out adorableness while Martin Freeman of impending Hobbit fame delivers a great performance as Watson, particularly in the emotion charge final scenes of last season's finale. The modern spin given to the classic tales - including A Study in Scarlet, A Scandal in Bohemia, The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Final Problem - have given new twists to formerly familiar stories. Seriously, the only thing about this series that does give me pleasure is the fact you have to wait SO. FREAKING. LONG. between seasons (the last finale had one hell of a cliffhanger followed by an eighteen month hiatus while both Cumberbatch and Freeman pursue other projects).

BONUS!: Gossip Girl (The CW)
A series soap that started off being about the drama surrounding a group of spoiler Upper East Side rich kids and became the coming of age story of...a group of spoiler Upper East Side rich kids. I know, I know - it does not sound like it would be all that great but there's something about watching the drama play out that really engages your attention.

 Okay, okay - I admit it! I watch it because I want Chuck and Blair to get together and, eternal optimist that I am, I keep thinking that somehow, some way, forgiveness will be dished out, the past buried deep and against all odds Chair will ride off into the sunset to make with the happily after. It's more aggravating than waiting for Ross and Rachel to get themselves sorted out. If I can make it through ten seasons of Friends for that, I can make through six for Chair. And, while Chuck did try to trade Blair for a hotel, he never slept with another girl while they were together - unlike some people I could name (who, I agree, were not on a break at the time).

Honourable Mentions: (I warned you!) NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Criminal Minds, Grey's Anatomy, The Mentalist, Psych, Burn Notice, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Hawaii Five-O, How I Met Your Mother, Castle, Bones, Vampire Diaries, Body of Proof, Blue Bloods, Unforgettable, American Dad, Family Guy, The Simpsons, Young Justice, Green Lantern, Glee

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Top 5 Sundays #20 - Favourite Love Scenes!

Love is a many coloured and splendid thing - with more forms to it than Morph of Treasure Planet fame. It's why when the possible Top 5 theme poll was posted last week, I asked Lar to clarify if she meant the physical or the emotional side of love - they can make the difference when narrowing down top scenes, the difference between what makes you shiver and what makes you cry.

So, without further ado, I present my  Top 5 Favourite Love Scenes!

#5 - Kate and Curran - Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews 
In the middle of this book, Kate gives Curran an explanation for why she wants his ex-girlfriend to have permission to marry her almost-boyfriend; it essence, because she wants them to have the sort of happiness she can't hope to have for herself. She goes on to give a brief outline of the current state of her life, in particular mentioning that when she drags herself home after her battles it's to an empty house with the lights off with no one there waiting for her to make coffee and tell her they're happy she survived. At book's end, not only is Curran waiting for her in her kitchen with the coffee brewing, he also tells her he's glad she survived and, when asked to leave, quotes a line from The Princess Bride, Kate's favourite book, "As you wish." Say it with me now, people: Awwww!
“He put the book down. “As you wish.” He rose and walked past me. I lowered my sword, expecting him to pass, but suddenly he stepped in dangerously close. “Welcome home. I’m glad you made it. There is coffee in the kitchen for you.”

My mouth gaped open.

He inhaled my scent, bent close, about to kiss me…

I just stood there like an idiot.

Curran smirked and whispered in my ear instead. “Psych.”

And just like that, he was out the door and gone.
Oh boy.” 

#4 - Sascha and Lucas - Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh
Sascha is a powerful psychic whose stifled empathic gifts mark her for death among her own kind. Lucas is the alpha of a clan of leopard shifters being targeted by a serial killer. Boy and girl meet. Boy likes girl, girl in denial about feelings towards boy, psychic girl subconsciously draws boy into shared dreams while both are asleep. The sweetest moment, however, comes on the night of the anniversary of Lucas' parents' deaths. Unlike other dreams, this one has a PJ-clad Sascha seeking comfort from the emotionally raw Lucas. 
“Sometimes I remember that I can't always protect those I love." Under his fingers, her hair was soft and silky.

She didn't try to tell him that he wasn't God, that he couldn't protect everyone. He knew that.

But knowing and believing were two different things. What she did say succeeded in stopping his heart. "I wish you'd love me."


Because then maybe you could protect me, too" Haunting sorrow whispered through her tone.”
 #3 - Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Alright, I admit that initially Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy did not hit it off. Even remotely. And Mr. Darcy's first try at a marriage proposal? "Disaster" is too small a word. But then, even knowing of Lizzie's disdain for him, he nonetheless goes on to salvage the Bennett family name from disgrace when younger sister Lydia runs off with the devilish Mr. Wickham  and talks his friend, Mr. Bingley, into returning to older sister Jane and proposing as he ought to have in the first place.
Elizabeth: Mr. Darcy, I can go no longer without thanking you for your kindness to my poor sister. Ever since I have known of it I have been most anxious to tell you how grateful I am, for my family and myself. You must not blame my aunt for telling me, Lydia betrayed it first and then I couldn't rest until I knew everything. I know what trouble and what mortification it must have cost you. Please let me say this, please allow me to thank you on behalf of all my family since they don't know to whom they are indebted.

Mr. Darcy:     If you will thank me, let it be for yourself alone. Your family owes me nothing. Much as I respect them I believe I thought only of you. You are too generous to trifle with me, if your feelings are what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject forever.
#2 - Clay and Elena - Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
When it comes to Elena and Clay, to say they had a rocky start is putting things a tad mildly. It was a happy enough beginning...until werewolf Clay bit human Elena with neither explanation or permission first. Ten years later, boy is still working on earning forgiveness but has remained completely loyal in the meanwhile, despite girl having moved on, living in Toronto with her new boyfriend. Luckily for Clay, things turn out alright for him. Most romantic part (of many, mind you, as quote shows): Clay giving Elena Christmas, not just once but every year since, and ensuring she had her sparklers on the firework holidays. For a psychopathic lunatic, Clayton Danvers sure does have his romantic side!
“I called. Why wasn't anyone here?"

"We were here." Clay said. "Around, anyway. You should have left a message."

"I did. Two hours ago."

"Well that explains it. I've been out, by the gate all day, waiting for you, and you know Jer never checks the machine."

I didn't know how Clay had known I was coming back today when I hadn't left a message. Nor did I question why he'd spent the entire day waiting at the gate. Clay's behavior couldn't be measured by human standard's of normalcy... or by any standards of normalcy at all.
#1 - Will and April - Definitely, Maybe directed/written by Adam Brooks
This is a movie (starring Ryan Reynolds, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Rachel Weisz, and Elizabeth Banks) about a father telling his daughter the story of how he met her mother - and the two other great loves of his life - with the names changed to hide which of the three is in fact the mother. This is a movie about a man who, even after missing his chance to be with the woman he loves, nonetheless searches high and low for years to find the specific copy of Jane Eyre in which her long dead father wrote her a message. Once the book is found, he keeps it because it is the only piece of her he has left. What can be more romantic than that?

Will Hayes (practicing his proposal): Will you... um... marry me?
April (playing part of Will's girlfriend, Emily): No. What do you mean, Will you, um, marry me? I haven't seen you in weeks! You don't look happy or excited about the prospect of our marriage! You're asking me to give up my - my freedom, my joie de vivre for an institution that fails as often as it succeeds? And why should I marry you anyway? I mean, why do you wanna marry me? Besides some bourgeois desire to fulfill an ideal that society embeds in us from an early age to promote a consumer capitalist agenda?

Will Hayes: Oh! Oh, my God.

April: You should've got on your knee.

Will Hayes: Just shut up! Here - I wanna marry you because you're the first person I wanna look at when I wake up in the morning, and the only one I wanna kiss goodnight. Because the first time that I saw these hands, I couldn't imagine not being able to hold them. But mainly, when you love someone as much as I love you, getting married is the only thing left to do. So, will you, um, marry me?

April: Definitely. Maybe.
And there you have it; this week's Top 5. Until next week, my pretties, adieu!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Top 5 Sundays #19 - Authors Who Write More Than One Great Book Series!

This week's poll at Larissa's Bookish Life ended in a tie between "Authors Who Write More Than One Great Book Series!" and "Books I Had to Buy But Are Gathering Dust on My Shelf" so thanks to the time honoured tradition of eeny, meeny, miney, moe this week's Top 5 on Calliope's Domain will be looking at authors who write (or wrote) more than one great book series. We're at a point where stand alone books are something of an endangered species, especially in the urban fantasy genre. Heck, even in the paranormal romance genre couples may change but the series chugs along. The challenge with this list was finding five authors with multiple series that appeal to me. It's not that great authors are one hit wonders in the series department, far from it, but more often than not they try to make their second series something so distinct and different from the first that it's not always a guarantee that both will suit the tastes of a singular reader.

So, without further ado, I present Calliope's Domain's Top 5 Authors Who Write More Than One Great Book Series!

#5 - Kelly Meding
 Dreg City begins with a monster hunter resurrected in the borrowed body of a suicide victim and trying to navigate the change, unexpected love and, of course, solve the mystery of her own murder. Metawars has recently a team superheroes try to come to grips with their newly returned powers, a less than welcoming public, and each other now that they're all grown up. Both series have a true edge of realism to their stories and detailed casts of believable and distinct characters. Meding successfully manages to hit the nail on the head - twice.

#4 - Seanan McGuire
On the one hand, you have Toby Daye, a Fae halflie whose happily ever got scrapped when a rival turned into a fish for over a decade, and on the other you have Verity Price, daughter in a long line of cryptozoologists trying to make a name (even if its not her own) for herself as a professional dancer in NYC. You may as well be comparing Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Grimm; sure you can find the common threads but when you get down to it these two series couldn't be more different!

#3 - Michelle Rowen
Michelle Rowen has one of those quirky, comedic personalities that infuses each and every book she writes in its own distinct and unique way. Sarah Dearly, of her Immortality Bites series, gets turned into a vamp on a blind date and wakes up to vampire hunters; cue running for her life which, naturally, leads her to interrupt the suicide attempt of a six hundred year old Master vampire. Psychic and police consultant Eden Riley finds herself possessed by cursed Incubus Darrak at a crime scene and dang if she didn't find him just the littlest bit irresistible. Jillian Conrad was just your run of the mill office worker until a coffee run led to her being injected with a serum that made her blood poisonous to vampires. Enter Declan; a tall, dark and handsome vampire hunter and dhampir working for an agency with more secrets than even anyone working there knows.

#2 - Gena Showalter
Here's a riddle for you: what do immortal warrior cursed with the demons of sin freed from Pandora's Box have in common with a girl who, thanks to a super secret formula unwittingly gulped down with her coffee, acquires control of the elements? Well, both have their stories told (and told unbelievably well) by the pen of Gena Showalter, and frankly, that's pretty much the only commonality these two series can claim.

#1 - Anne Bishop
In one corner, you have a series chronicling the life of dreams incarnate through the eyes of those around her. In the other corner, you have a fairy tale telling of the collapse of the Fae world as the witches who connect their world to ours fall to the persecutions. Both are told with vivid detail and infused with oceans of emotion, both share a common undertone to the writing, but the stories themselves could not be more different.

And there you have it! Until next week, my pretties, I bid you adieu. Ciao!

Monday, September 3, 2012

WINNER of Jennifer Estep Widow's Web Giveaway

And the winner is...

 Margaret Ushman

Thanks to, Margaret Ushman has won the copy of Widow's Web by Jennifer Estep up for grabs! Congratulations, Margaret! Please send me your snail mail address as soon as possible (you should find a notification e-mail from me in your inbox) so I can pass it along to get your book in the mail as soon as possible.

As for the rest of you, be sure to scoop up your own copy of Widow's Web posthaste and thanks for participating. I'd also like to extend my gratitude to Ms. Estep for stopping by and taking the time and effort to contribute to Calliope's Domain and its readers, especially at what must be such a busy time for her.

Ciao for now, ladies and gents!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Top 5 Sundays #18 - Great Books I Read Because of a Blogger's Recommendation/Review

This week's Top 5 theme is Great Books I Read Because of a Blogger's Recommendation/Review and I have a confession to make right off the bat. Truth be told, while I do know which books were recommended to me (as opposed to merely coming upon them online or in store), in most cases I have a completely wretched grasp on the memory of who it was that did the recommending. So, I'd like to say now that frequent book blogging haunts of mine include:

 Amberkatze's Book Blog was my original book blog haunt. It hosts great interviews with authors from a variety of paranormal genres and formats, has giveaways almost every week, sponsors a monthly giveaway for subscribers with the book prize voted on by said subscribers, and has comprehensive and straightforward reviews of those books and more.

Heroes and is an incredible site, especially if you've got a hankering for some romance. It not only does reviews and contests, it provides recaps of television shows and movies, gives opinions on various elements of romance, runs comparisons of movies and books, and a gazillion other things all meant to help you find your way to the perfect fictional romantic escape.

Literary Escapism has a whole slew of elements that make it great - interviews, contests, reviews, reading challenges - but by far the most handy feature of this site are the lists. Jackie, the brains behind LE, makes fantastic lists keeping track of all upcoming releases which is invaluable when one's planning their book budget for the month or the year. I also love her collection of newly unveiled cover art most easily seen on her Facebook page.

Larissa's Bookish Life - this blog offers some great features: it originated Top 5 Sundays, it hosts numerous contests and interviews and it even has personal diary posts on a wide range of topics not just books. Add in some amazing graphics and a easy to navigate site design and it's no small wonder why this site holds my interest. Not to mention that Larissa, the dame behind the name, has a great personality that infuses every aspect of her site, top to bottom! (Pimpin' my Ship #1!)

And now, without further ado, I give you my Top 5 Great Books I Read Because of a Blogger's Recommendation/Review!

#5 -  Blood Rights by Kristen Painter
Someone described this book's hero as "Geisha gone the way of Mulan" and its hero as "the Hulk gone Dark Side." It was definitely the right way of gaining my attention.

#4 - Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
Ilona Andrews was talking on her blog about having read another of Loretta Chase's books - Silk is for Seduction - and mentioned in the comments that "Lady Chase’s heroines are never helpless. In fact, in LORD OF SCOUNDRELS the heroine shoots the hero." Really, why would more incentive than that be needed?

#3 - Grimspace by Ann Aguirre
"It's Firefly with a twist," someone said so I read the first book. And the second. And so on. Turns out, it's one hell of a twist.

#2 - Working for the Devil by Lilith Saintcrow
I bought the book because it seemed to always be about and finally I just bought it to keep from picking up every time I went to the bookstore. I read it, however, after reading a review that summarized this book in such a way that I had to see for myself if it stood up to the hype. It does.

#1 - Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch
This book - and series, for that matter - got a lot of internet coverage and finally I caved to peer pressure and picked the first book up.  The internet had it right - the humour alone made these books work the read.

Ta da! My Top 5 Great Books I Read Because of a Blogger's Recommendation and/or Review! 
Until next week, my pretties! Adieu!